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Spreading kindness may have a bigger impact than you think

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Posted at 4:08 PM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 16:08:51-05

Being kind to another person may have a bigger impact than one might think.

In a set of studies, Amit Kumar, an assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, and a colleague, found that people who perform acts of kindness may not always realize the impact they are having on another person

The pair conducted numerous experiments involving 1,000 participants. Some participants wrote and received friendly notes while others gave away and received cupcakes.

The participants were asked to complete questionnaires after the act.

"We wanted to understand how valuable people perceived these acts to be, so both the performer and recipient had to rate how 'big' the act seemed," Kumar wrote in the Scientific American.

The performer's expectations were compared with the recipient's mood. Kumar said several patterns emerged.

"It was clear that performers undervalued their impact: recipients felt significantly better than the kind actors expected. The recipients also reliably rated these acts as 'bigger' than the people performing them did," Kumar wrote.

The results, according to Kumar, confirm that being kind to others has a bigger impact than one might expect. So, he poses the question, "Why not choose kindness when we can?"